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updated July 15, 2014)

Arwen's hiking Journal

In New  Hampshire's  White  Mountains

Page Menu:   |  Intro  |  Hiking Weather  |  Recent Hikes  |  Hiking Gear Links

 
Introduction (and Index)
 

My Hiking Journal is now broken up into three sections:

- This main Hiking Page covers hiking weather, hiking gear, and my recent hiking adventures in the White Mountains. 
- My White Mountains Page mainly focuses on the mountains themselves. 
- My Summer 2003 Hiking Page is my older hiking page, about my hikes during the summer of 2003.

Winter View of Cannon Cliffs from Mount Lafayette

This photo was taken by my brother, right after a heavy snowstorm, from a location that he bushwhacked to on Mount Lafayette.  I found the negatives a few years ago and recently had them made into a large print (1.5 x 4 feet) which now hangs in my living room.  This photo was taken with his large-format camera and the print was made by digitally splicing together the two black and white negatives.


 

Page Menu: | Intro | Hiking Weather | Recent Hikes | Hiking Gear | Links
Hiking Weather (in the White Mountains)

In this section, I have added detail weather information for the summits, which is provided by the Mount Washington Observatory.  The weather here in the White Mountains often changes rapidly, and the weather on the summit can be totally different from the weather at the base of the mountain (at the trailhead).  On the higher summits, you can run into winter conditions, even on a summer hike.  So make sure that you carry warm clothing with you, and ALWAYS check the forecast before setting out on a hike. 


Current Summit Conditions on Mount Washington (updated every 15 minutes)


White Mountain Summit Forecasts

Audio Weather Forecasts (MP3 plays in a new window):

Morning Summit Report

Evening Summit Report


For more weather information, go to Mount Washington Observatory Weather Center (opens a new window).

 

Page Menu: | Intro | Hiking Weather | Recent Hikes | Hiking Gear | Links
Recent Hikes (2012)

September 21, 2012: June ended up being the only month that I hike over the summer (and I finally posted my June 30th hike up Mount Crawford.  So I started out strong, but then things just kept getting in the way of being able to hike.  In the first 3 weeks of July we had so many thunderstorms (many of which were rather severe) that it seemed like every time that I tried to plan a hike, the forecast always had severe weather alerts posted.  Then I go sick at the end of the month and spent a week barely able to take even a walk in my neighborhood.  In early August, when my friend returned from her trip to China, she was more interested in going kayaking (since she had barely used her new kayak before she left).  And then my new sea kayak finally arrived on August 12th.  Plus August ended up being a very hot month (at least on the days I had free), and paddling on a large lake is so much more enjoyable on a hot humid day, than trying to hike in that heat.  I just figured that I would begin hiking again in early September, when it cooled off a bit . . . then I injured my right foot, and just walking around my home hurt.  My foot is still a bit sore, but I have plans to do a moderate hike tomorrow.  If my foot does ok, I'll likely try doing some longer hikes this fall.


GPS plots of my hiking routes: At some point I hope to purchase a Garmin GPS unit, but that's just not in my budget this year.  In the past I have relied on Google Earth's distance tool to get a rough estimate on how far I have traveled in my kayak in a paddle outing.  This works fairly well for lakes, since their are no changes in elevation.  But this is not at all accurate for a hike up a mountain, since elevation in a big factor in determining your distance when climbing up a mountain.  So I've been looking for another mapping tool that could do this, and after a LOT of frustrating searching, I found TopoFusion.  At the end of each of my hike reports below, is a plotted profile of my route (with elevation points plotted over distance hiked) and my plotted route imported into Google Earth.


Index of My Hikes in the White Mountains

2012 Hikes:
- June 1st: Cannon Mountain
- June 14th: Mount Flume, Mount Liberty Loop
- June 30th: Mount Crawford (Davis Path)

2003 Hikes: (my older hiking page, from the summer of 2003)
- July 6th: Bald Mountain and Artist Bluff
- July 12th: Mount Willard (and Ammonoosuc Lake)
- July 19th: Zealand Falls (and AMC hut)
- July 26th: Cannon Mountain and Lonesome Lake
- Aug 9th: Arethusa Falls
- Aug 23rd: Mount Moosilauke
- Sept 6th: Mt. Garfield
- Sept 13th: Welch-Dickie Trail
 
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Cannon Mountain - June 1, 2012 - Solo Hike

Trailhead Location: Lafayette Place (campground) in Franconia Notch (~ 20 minutes from my house)

Total loop: 6.1 miles. [Ascent: 2.7 miles in 2.6 hours.  Descent: 3.4 miles in 1.8 hours. (including photo and lunch breaks)].
Note: this was an extended route, and was 0.9 miles longer than the more usual route (Lonesome + Hi-Cannon Kinsman to summit ascent, with Kinsman + Lonesome descent), with 80 more vertical feet.
 
Highest point
: 4080 feet (summit of Cannon Mountain)

Elevation gain:
2320 feet (trailhead is at 1760 feet). But on the route that I took, I actually climbed a total of about 2550 feet.

I started my hike at 10:10 am and was back at my car at 3:50 pm, making this a 5 hour, and 40 minute hike (including my time on the summit, my lunch break, and the time I spent taking photos). This was my first hike of the year, and the first hike with my new hiking boots (which were awesome, and did not hurt my feet.)  At just over 6 miles, this was not a long hike for me, but it has some pretty steep stretches (see plotted profile of my route below), so it was plenty long enough for my first hike of the season. This was also my first hike with my new trekking poles, which I used for the entire hike, and I was very happy with how much they helped (especially in the trickier sections).  After using them for this hike, they have become part of my own personal essential hiking gear.

The lower portion of the Lonesome Lake Trail is a pretty easy hike, so it only took me about 10 minutes to reach the junction of the Hi-Cannon Trail (at 0.4 miles), where my climb became much steeper. The weather was perfect for hiking . . . clear and near 70 F at the trailhead.  But I started out climbing at too fast a pace and over-heated until I finally found my stride, after the first mile or so.  We had heavy rains earlier in the week, but the trail wasn't as wet as I had feared, although there were quite a few recent blow downs.  And this was what led to a minor issue during this hike. 

On my ascent up the lower portion of the Hi-Cannon trail, I somehow missed the trail junction sign and I also missed where the Hi-Cannon trail branched off sharply to the right.  I'm guessing that perhaps a blow down had made it less noticeable, but I may have just not been paying as close attention as I should have. This seemed to be just above where I had passed a large group of high school students, who I hoped had spotted the junction.  So I ending up on the Dodge Cutoff trail by mistake.  And I didn't go far before feel that something was right, when the trail began to descend, and I was expecting a steep climb.  In a few minutes I was looking at Lonesome Lake, and I knew that I should have been going in the opposite direction.  At first I considered backtracking, since the Dodge Cutoff trail is only 0.3 mile long, but then I figured that it would be easier if I just continued on in this direction.

My planned direct route to the summit would have had me continuing up the Hi-Cannon Trail and making a big counter-clockwise loop (to the summit, down to the lake, around the lake, and back down to the trailhead).  My planned route was a repeat of the climb I had made back in 2003. This time my new route was going to be more of a figure-eight. The Dodge Cutoff Trail ended at the Lonesome Lake Trail, so my new ascent was up the Lonesome lake Trail from the North end of the lake to the Kinsman Ridge Trail, which would then take me directly to the summit. My descent would be back down the upper section of the Kinsman Ridge Train to the Hi-Cannon Trail, which I would then follow down until I reach the Dodge Cutoff Trail, which I would then retrace my ascent route back to the lake.

Most of the area around Lonesome Lake is quite swampy, but the Around-The-Lake Trail is mostly over an extensive wooden walkway, so is it a very easy (and dry) walk across the double planks that are nailed across chunks of logs. Above the lake the trail climbed moderately up to the Kinsman Ridge Trail (at 0.75 mile from the Around-The-Lake Trail).  After a short level stretch along the lowest part of the ridge (which actually descended a bit), the trail climbed VERY steeply, with long sections of boulder scrambling (sections of this portion of the trail are 50 to 60% grade).  After climbing up the steep ridge for about 0.5 mile, the trail leveled off considerably, and I soon reached the junction of the Hi-Cannon trail (which had been my planned route up the mountain).  I remained on the Kinsman Ridge Trail, and continue up to the summit (4080 feet elevation), which was an easy 0.4 mile hike along the top of the ridge.  From the trailhead, I had hiked a total distance of about 2.7 miles, with an elevation gain of 2320 feet, and it had taken me 2.6 hours.  My 1 mph pace seemed really slow, but it was my first hike this year, and then I figured out that I had climbed up at a vertical pace of nearly 1000 feet per hour, which wasn't bad.  Overall, I was pretty happy with my ascent . . . plus I felt great (including my feet)!

At the summit is a Fire Tower (now mainly a communications tower), with a large viewing platform that is reached by a wide stairway.  The Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway is a popular tourist ride to the summit, so on nice days (like today) the tower will often be full of non-hiking tourist (along with a much smaller number of hikers).  The tower wasn't packed when I arrived, but I knew that the next tramcar would deposit another large group of tourist, so I stayed just long enough to take a few photos and drink some water.  There was a steady breeze at that summit, and I'm guessing that the temperature was close to 50 F (I had been hiking in shorts and my sports/running bra, and only needed to pull on a light tee shirt at the top of the tower).  It was 1 pm when I headed back down, but I wasn't all that hungry . . . and I remembered a good lunch spot off the Hi-Cannon Trail, that I should be able to reach within 20 minutes or so.

Moderately steep section of the Kinsman Ridge trail.

At the base of the 15-step ladder on the Hi-Cannon trail.


From Cannon Summit - Looking Southwest at Kinsman Ridge, with the Cannon Balls and North and South Kinsman Peaks.
(I hiked up from the left side, coming up from Lonesome Lake onto the lowest part of the ridge, and climbing up the steepest section.)

Lake, walkway, and AMC hut (from ledge on Hi-Cannon trail). A portion of the plank walkway, on northwest side of lake.

From the summit, I hiked back down the upper section of the Kinsman Ridge Trail, where I ran into the large group of students again, on their way to the summit.  After talking with one of the adults, I found out that they had made the same mistake that I did, and had also ended up on the Dodge Cutoff Trail, and had also decided to continue up to Kinsman Ridge, instead of backtracking.

In no time at all I reached the Hi-Cannon Trail, which I took until I reach my lunch-break ledge (about 20 min. from the summit tower), which had some great views down to Lonesome lake. I stopped for about 15 minutes to eat my PBJ sandwich, and chatted with a couple of guys who were heading up to the summit.  They told me that they had no trouble spotting where the trail had branched to the right (ok, so I guess I just spaced it and missed it). 

After lunch I continued on down the Hi-Cannon Trail, and soon reached the steepest section . . . part of which includes descending down a rough 15-step wooden ladder.  I'm not afraid of heights, but I've always climbed up this trail, so this was my first time climbing down this ladder, and these are very long steps . . . especially that last one . . . which is more than a 2-foot drop.  From the base of the ladder, the trail continued down steeply until it leveled out a short distance above the Dodge Cutoff Trail (about a 50 minute descent from my lunch ledge).  When I reached the junction, I discovered why I had missed the trail on the way up. The large tree holding the sign marking the Dodge Cutoff trail had blown over (and broken up).  Someone had since propped up a rotted chunk of the downed tree, with the trail sign still attached to it, and most of the fallen debris had now been cleared off the Hi-Cannon Trail.  Oh well, so it was not totally my fault that I hadn't followed my intended route . . . but it actually turned out well and it gave me a more unique hike (although a bit longer one).

I then retraced my ascent route on the Dodge Cutoff trail, back to Lonesome Lake.  This time, instead of heading up to the ridge, I continued on the Around-The-Lake Trail over to the AMC Hut, where I spent some time taking photos of the Franconia Range (until about 3:05 pm).  Then I quickly hiked around to the East side of the lake, and down the lower section of the Lonesome Lake Trail, back to the trailhead.  After a short walk through the campground, I arrived at my car at 3:50 pm.  My total descent (including the walk around the lake) was about 3.4 miles in length and took me 1.8 hours (including my 15-minute lunch break, and 10-min snack and photo break at the hut).  My average descent pace was just under 2 mph (including my two breaks).  And my feet didn't even hurt, thanks to me awesome new hiking boots and having the right sock combination.  But I did still slip into my Tevas for the ride home (mostly because my hiking boots were a bit muddy).


Lonesome Lake and the summits of Lafayette and Lincoln (northern end of Franconia Range)


Lonesome Lake and Cannon Mountain (the canoe is owned by the AMC hut)

My ascent was from the right side of the lake, up to the lowest part of the Kinsman Ridge on the left, and then the steep climb up to the summit (the actual summit is not visible from the lake). My descent was down from the summit on the right side (the Hi-Cannon Trail).  I had lunch on the highest section of ledges, just down from the ridge line.  The clouds were just beginning to move in (it was going to be a very rainy weekend).


My GPS route imported into Google Earth (using Topofusion to plot my route) - looking North


Plotted profile of my route, with elevation points plotted over distance hiked (in miles).


 

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Mount Flume, Mount Liberty Loop - June 14, 2012 - Solo Hike

Trailhead Location - Whitehouse Trail: Hiker's parking lot off Route 3, just north of the Flume Visitors Center in Franconia Notch (~ 25 minutes from my house)

Total loop: 10 miles. [Ascent (summit of Liberty: 5.9 miles in 4h:55m.  20 minute lunch break on summit. Descent: 4.1 miles in 3 hours. [Note: my GPS route was done using the Open Street Map overlay, and came out to 8.8 miles, yet the actual hike is 10 miles, so my guess is that part of the actual trail does not exactly match the overlay.]
 
Highest point
: 4459 feet (summit of Mount Liberty)

Elevation gain:
3029 feet (trailhead is at 1430 feet). But on the route that I took, I actually climbed a total of about 3792 feet.

Warning: This is a VERY difficult loop, due to the difficulty in climbing up the exposed ledges on the upper part of the Flume Slide Trail, which can be treacherous and is pretty much a technical climb. I would strongly suggest avoiding the Flume Slide assent if the weather has been wet recently, or might be cold enough for any ice to form.

After my new hiking boots worked out so well in my first hike, I decided that I would try a more challenging hike.  And this one looked about right at 10 miles, with a 3000 foot elevation gain, and it was about a 7 hour hike.  I started my hike at 8:45 am and was back at my car at 5:00 pm, making this an 8 hour, 15 minute hike (including my time on the summit and the time I spent taking photos). AMC Book Time for this hike is 6:45, which seems a bit low, due to the difficulty in climbing up the ledges on the upper part of the Flume Slide Trail (I think a more realistic average time would be at least 7:15).

Whitehouse Trail Trailhead to Liberty Springs Junction [0.8 mile; my time: 0:15]: I parked my car in the nearly empty hikers' parking lot (the joys of hiking on a weekday), shouldered on my 20-pound pack, extended my trekking poles (I would be REALLY glad that I had these), and walked across the lot to where the trail entered the woods.  My pack was 4 or 5 pounds heavier than I have previously carried, but this was a long solo day hike that included some above timberline exposure.  So my load included my two large water bottles (24 ounces each) and some extra layers of clothing. The time was 8:45 am (I had hoped to start hiking by 8 am, but I was running a bit late, as usual), it was cool (56 F), and sunny.

The first thing I noticed was that the trail was VERY wet.  I had expected the trail to be a bit wet, as we had a some rain the day before, but it must have rained much harder here.  The mountains that surround Franconia Notch make a barrier for weather fronts, so the weather just northwest of the Notch (where I live) can be very different from the weather southeast of the Notch (and the Notch itself can be very different from both).  So the trail would be a bit muddy . . . no big deal on such a gorgeous day (there was like one little cloud in the sky).  [It is good to be optimistic, but it turned out that the very wet trail ended up making a huge issue for me later on.  Had I known what was ahead of me, I would have altered my route considerably.]  This trail meanders through the woods, with some minor ups and downs over a small hill, before it descends to the bike path after 0.6 miles.  The trail then is shared with the bike path (pay no attention to the trail directly across the bike path, those granite steps only lead down to the river).  The bike path is wide, paved, and level (in this section) so it was a very easy walk, with the rushing waters of the Pemigewasset River (the Pemi) on my right, until I reached the arched bridge where I crossed the river.  A short distance from the bridge, the Liberty Springs Trail enters the woods on the right. So far I haven't seen anyone, not even a bike rider. [Historical note: The Whitehouse Trail is so named because, prior to Interstate 93's construction project in the Notch, the Liberty Springs Trail use to begin at the Whitehouse Bridge hiker parking lot, on the north side of the bridge, where route 3 crossed the Pemi.  In 1892 Frank W. Whitehouse bought land just below the Basin and built a sawmill (actually two separate mills) at this location, which only operated for 5 years.]

Liberty Springs Trail from Bike Path to Flume Slide Junction [0.6 mile; my time: 0:20 (totals: 1.4 miles, 0:35)]: This section of the Trail is part of the AT (Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine), so it is a wide, well maintained, and heavily traveled trail.  But this morning I had the trail to myself, and it was mostly very wet and quite a muddy trek, as I picked my way across stepping stones and logs, trying to remain as mud free as possible.  After leaving the bike path, the trail climbs moderately for 0.4 miles, where it takes a sharp right turn, levels out, and follows an old logging road (used in the late 1800s by the Whitehouse Mills). In a few minutes I had reached the junction of the Flume Slide Trail.

Flume Slide Trail (Liberty Spring junction to bottom of slide) [ 2.6 miles; my time: 1:30 (totals: 4.0 miles, 2:05)]: The Flume Slide Trail is MUCH less traveled than the Liberty Springs Trail.  It is narrow, and in places looks more like a wildlife trail than a hiking trail. No one had been on the trail yet this morning.  I could tell this by all the spider webs that crisscrossed the trail, which I kept wiping away from my face and arms. I walked with one of my trekking poles held up in front of me, like a wizard's staff . . . which worked, but my arm kept getting tired. But the trail had recently been cleared from blow downs and this section was mostly level, with ups and downs only at the brooks.

Flume Slide Trail (bottom of slide to Franconia Ridge) [0.7 mile; my time: 1:40 (totals: 4.7 miles, 3:45)]: The toughest part of this section is a one-half mile stretch of exposed ledge, where you gain 1300 feet in elevation (climbing up from 2700 feet to 4000 feet). At first this was rather steep, but not all that bad . . . so I'm thinking that my pace is going to be pretty slow, but this is nothing worse than some sections of my last hike.  What I didn't know was that what I was climbing up was only a very small section of the slide, and more than 90% of it was out of sight, AND that the 90% that I wasn't seeing was a LOT steeper than this little preview.  When I made it to the top of the first section of ledge, I looked back down at what I had just done, and at how rapidly I was now gaining elevation.  At this rate, I'll reach the ledge in no time.

Then I looked up . . . and had to actually bend my head way back to see the entire section of exposed ledge rising above me.  "Ok, this cannot possibly be what I have to go up.  The trail has to zigzag up on one side."  But then I saw the blue trail marker, painted on the ledge, about a third of the way up. This was the trail, even if it looked just like a technical climb.  Only I didn't have any rope, and there wasn't a Sherpa available to string out some safety lines for me to grab onto.  "Ok, so this ledge is not actually as bad as it looks.  There are probably plenty of good handholds."  Wrong again . . . on both counts.  It was worse than it looked, and I hadn't even noticed the little stream that running right down the middle of it.  I started climbing, and had to keep retracing my steps, because there were very few good handholds, and the ones I could see always seemed to be just out of reach.  In order to make any progress at all, I had to keep crossing over the stream that flowed over the center section of the ledge, because the handholds I needed always seemed to be on the other side of the stream.  And anyplace where the stream of water flowed made the rock very slippery. I literally clawed my way up, often using every inch of my reach (and I have a very long reach) to gain the next handhold.  And, when a handhold was out of my reach, I used my trekking poles to push me up high enough to grab it.  It was a very hairy climb, and I was shaking by the time I reached the top.

Only this wasn't the top.  It was just a semi-flat section before the next stretch of steep ledge, which looked even longer than what I had just clawed my way up.  This is where I loss it, and cried.  I was ready to bail, only I wasn't sure if I could safely work my way back down what I had just had so much trouble getting up, since climbing down a ledge is always harder than going up.  But could I make it up this next pitch (I later learned that this section was a 60 to 70+ degree grade)?  If I lost my footing and fell, I would be seriously injured . . . and I was totally alone out here.  (Now I know why this trail does not see much use . . . which really should have been a clue.)  But continuing up seemed to be my safest option at this point.

It was a very tough climb, and without a doubt the most difficult rock climbing I have ever done.  There we many places where I was right at the very edge of my physical ability.  And emotionally, I wasn't doing that great.  But somehow, after a very long, slow climb, I finally reached the top of the steepest section.  They trail was still fairly steep for another 20 minutes or so, but suddenly I saw the ridge ahead, and reached the 3-way junction of the Flume Slide Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, and the Osseo Trail. 


From Mount Liberty Summit (4459 ft), looking South at Mount Flume and Slides

Franconia Ridge Trail (Flume Slide Trail junction to Liberty Springs Trail) [1.5 miles; my time (including 20 minutes on the summit of Liberty): 1:45 (totals: 6.2 miles, 5:30)]: I was totally exhausted, both physically and emotionally. But the trail sign at the junction gave that the summit of Mount Flume was only 0.1 mile further, so I only stopped long enough to drink some water, and headed up the ridge.  The time was now 12:30, so lunch on the summit sounded like a good idea. But when I reached the summit, the black flies were so thick that there was no way I was stopping there to eat.  So I just stopped long enough to take a few photos and to talk with briefly with the first hiker I had met all day.

I left the summit at 12:40 and descended for about 0.5 mile, losing about 400 feet of elevation, before the trail began climbing up toward the summit of Liberty.  The distance from summit to summit is only 1.1 miles, but you end up having to climb about 600 feet (after losing those 400 feet).  I had stuffed a granola bar into my shorts' pocket, which I munched once the trail was semi-level, but my energy level was still low, so I wasn't hiking very fast at all.  At 1:40 I finally reached the summit of Mount Liberty.  The wind had picked up enough to keep most the black flies away, but there were some wasps at the summit that kept buzzing me, so I figured there was a nest nearby, so I hiked down to the lower summit, where I finally had a nearly bug-free lunch, and called my best friend (who was at work down in Franconia) to let her know that I had safely made it to the top of Liberty, and was about to head down. At 2 pm I left the summit of Liberty, and reached the Liberty Springs Trail in about 15 minutes, since it is only 0.3 miles from the summit and I felt much better after my leisurely lunch break.


From Mount Liberty Summit (4459 ft), looking North at Cannon Mountain Cliffs and Mount Lincoln

Liberty Springs Trail (Franconia Ridge Trail to Flume Slide Trail junction) [2.9 miles; my time: 1:45 (totals: 8.5 miles, 5:30)]: It was an easy climb down to the Liberty Springs Campsite (AMC) [0.3 miles in about 15 minutes], but the black flies had found me again, so I finally gave in and slathered on some bug repellant, which kept most of them off of me.  Just above the tent site, I took the short side trail over the spring, where I filled up my empty water bottle (I really didn't need more water for my descent, since my second water bottle was still nearly full.  But the spring water was colder than what I had carried all day.) I talked with the AMC hosts at their large cabin-tent and continued down the trail at about 2:40.  It was 2 miles to the Flume Slide Trail junction, so I was guessing it would take me about an hour, since the trail was quite steep.  At first I make really good time, but after about 30 minutes of steep descent my knees began to go jelly on me, so I had to slow down, as I didn't want to risk having on give out on me.  This was also when I noticed how sore my right shoulder was.  20 pounds was more than I have ever carried in my daypack (for any distance) and that additional 5 pounds was beginning to take its toll on me.  My pack doesn't have a hip belt, so all that weight was pulling on my shoulders.  Due to my slower pace, I didn't reach the Flume Slide Trail junction until 4:20 pm (it had taken me 40 minutes longer than I had expected).  This wasn't an issue, as I figured I would still be able to make it to my car by 5 pm, and the sun doesn't even set until like 8:30 now, so I was totally fine, other then being more than a little sore.

Liberty Springs Trail & Whitehouse Trail (Flume Slide Trail junction to Trailhead/parking) [1.5 miles; my time: 0:40 (totals: 10.0 miles, 8:15)]: The last bit of the Liberty Springs Trail (back down to the bike path), the section of the bike path, and the minor ups and downs of the Whitehouse Trail, is a pretty easy hike.  And I was personally very happy with that, as I had had more than enough of long steep descents for one day.  I was now in pain, as my sore right shoulder was now so painful that I had loosened the right strap of my pack, so that my left shoulder had most of the weight (and that shoulder was now pretty sore as well).  And both knees were really complaining, plus I could tell that my ankles were both swollen.  I was not a happy camper on the last few miles of this hike.  So I was very relieved when I finally reached the trailhead parking, after over eight hours of hiking.  I was in pain and pretty tired, but I had made it down ok (as in my knees had not blown out).  A long soak in a hot bubble bath was most definitely in my immediate plans (once I drove home and had some dinner). 

My knees were mostly fine after a day or so, and the swelling went down in my ankles after about four days, but my right shoulder is still sore today (nearly a week after my hike). [Ok, so it probably didn't help that I only gave my poor shoulder just one day of rest, before going out kayaking for three of the next four days.]  I guess that I need to do some more shopping, and see if I can find a more supportive pack (one that has a padded hip belt).  Once I find one, I'll add it to my Hiking Gear section,


My GPS route imported into Google Earth - looking North


Plotted profile of my route, with elevation points plotted over distance hiked (in miles).


Page Menu: | Intro | Hiking Weather | Recent Hikes | Hiking Gear | Links
Mount Crawford (Davis Path) - June 30, 2012

Trailhead Location - Davis Path: Notchland parking lot off Route 302, 5 miles south of Willey House site, in Crawford Notch State Park, Harts Location, NH (~ 45 minutes from my house). The parking lot is on the north side of the highway, just across from the Notchland Inn.

Total round trip: 5 miles. [Ascent (summit of Mount Crawford: 2.5 miles in 4h:55m. 30 minute lunch break on summit. Descent: 2.5 miles in 3 hours. [Note: my GPS round trip route was done using the My Topo overlay, and came out to 4.3 miles, yet the actual hike is 5 miles, so the actual trail does not exactly match the overlay.]
 
Highest point
: 3119 feet (summit of Mount Crawford)

Elevation gain:
1689 feet (trailhead is at 1430 feet). But on the route that we took, we actually climbed a total of about 2119 feet.

Ascent [2.5 miles; our time: 4:55]: Today my best friend Wendy was joining me, and she had suggested this hike. She had hiked this trail with my brother, but that was like 15 years ago, and this was my to be my first hike up Mount Crawford. I parked my car in the nearly empty large parking lot, and we shouldered on our 20-pound packs. We had both purchased new packs about a week ago, and this was our first time hiking with them. Hopefully all our efforts in trying to find the ideal backpack would pay off.  Wendy had been looking for a new pack for months, and I had discovered that I needed a better pack, after my last hike (my old pack was great for light loads, but when I tried to hike with a +20-pound load, my shoulders were just not up to the task).  This was my first backpack with a hip belt and a chest strap . . . it would be interesting to see how comfortable it would be after several hours.  This was also the first time that I would be using my new Osprey Hydraform 2-liter Reservoir (bladder).  I've always just carried water bottles, so this was going to take some getting use to.

 grabbed our trekking poles, and followed the dirt road along the Saco River for a short distance to where the suspension bridge crosses the wide river.  The bridge might appear to be over-built when you cross it in the summer, when the water is low (like it was today). But this river gets MUCH higher in the spring, and can rise rapidly even in mid summer, after a heavy thunderstorm.  Last year on August 29th, Hurricane Irene blasted through the White Mountains.  The forecast was so severe that the entire White Mountain National Forest was closed before the storm arrive (all hikers had to be evacuated to local shelters).  We rarely suffer any major damage here from hurricanes, but Irene was an exception.  According to the New Hampshire State Climate Office, over 10 inches of rainfall fell at the higher elevations of the White Mountains, and the wind speed on Mount Washington reached 120 mph. The damage from rushing water was so great that sections of 302 were washed out and the highway was impassible for several days. This footbridge weathered the storm just fine.


Wendy Crossing the Suspension Bridge over Saco River (which was really low)

About the Davis Path: One of the oldest routes up Mt. Washington, and, at 14.4 miles in length, one of the longest routes. From AMC's Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains: "The 3,119-foot summit of Mount Crawford provides one of the most stunning vistas in the White Mountains, like being up in a balloon enjoying an aerial view of the Presidentials, Frankenstein Cliff, Willey Range, and Mounts Carrigain and Tripyramid. Mount Crawford is reached by the Davis Path, one of the oldest hiking trails in the White Mountains. The trail was completed by Nathaniel Davis in 1845 as a bridle path to the summit of Mount Washington. Davis was a son-in-law of Abel Crawford, the “Old Patriarch” of the Crawford family, who brought his family to the area in the 1790s. Abel built the Mount Crawford House near the current trailhead. Davis, who managed the Mount Crawford House, was married to Hannah, the sister of Ethan Allen Crawford. The trail fell into disuse in the 1850s and was brought back as a footpath in 1910 by the AMC."

 


Looking Northwest, up the Saco River at Frankenstein Cliff

Back to Today's Hike: After crossing the suspension bridge, the trail remains level and it passes quite near a couple of residences.  This was where the black flies first should up . . . and they increased in numbers as the trail continued through some wetlands, which includes a couple of brook crossings (small and very easy to cross).  By the time the trail began to climb, the swarms of black flies were driving me nuts . . . in all of my hikes, I have never been attacked by so many at once.  Not only were they biting everywhere, they were swarming around my eyes (your eyes are one of the warmest parts of your body, and these things are attracted to body heat).  I figured that the bugs would not be a problem once we were out of the wet area and began to climb, which we should be doing in just a few minutes.  I was totally wrong.

I was soon nearly running up the trail in my futile attempt to escape the swarms of black flies, leaving Wendy behind (which I kept apologizing for doing, but then took off on her again).  I finally stopped long enough to apply some bug repellent, which was a process in itself . . . stop running/swat at bugs, take off pack/swat at bugs, open pack/swat at bugs, find bug repellent/swat at bugs, rip open repellent/swat at bugs, start applying repellent/swat at bugs, finish applying repellent/swat at bugs, close up pack/swat at bugs, put pack on/swat at bugs, and start running again (since they repellent didn't actually work all that well).  I later stopped again and applied some extra-strength bug juice that I didn't like to use (as it is rather toxic), but I was now desperate to rid myself of these pests (and I was on the verge of freaking out).

This was not the best way to begin a hike, but the toxic bug juice worked . . . and I would now probably repel even a large bear for the next few hours (and any guy that I happened to meet on the trail).  And the rest of the hike turned out really well (I'll add more here at some point, but for now I just want to finally post what I have so far).


Bumble Bee on Blueberry Blossoms, near the summit.



From Mount Crawford summit (3119 ft), looking Northwest, up through Crawford Notch.
Summits (left to right): Mount Field, Mount Willey, Mount Webster, and Mount Jackson


From summit, looking Northeast, at distant Mount Washington, with Stairs Mountain in center right
(The Davis Path passes over Stairs Mountain, and continues to Mount Washington)


My GPS route imported into Google Earth - looking North (summit of Mount Washington is distant peak in center)


Plotted profile of my round trip route (same trail), with elevation points plotted over distance hiked (in miles).


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 Frankenstein Cliff Trail & Arethusa Falls Loop - September 22, 2012

Trailhead Location: Arethusa Falls lower parking lot off Route 302, 4 miles south of Willey House site, in Crawford Notch State Park, Harts Location, NH (~ 45 minutes from my house). The parking lot at the bottom of the Arethusa Falls Road.

Total Loop: 4.8 miles.
 
Highest point
: ~2300 feet (Outlook, near top of Frankenstein Cliff)

Elevation gain:
1500 feet (trailhead is at 1430 feet). But on the route that we took, we actually climbed a total of about 2119 feet.

Today my best friend and I were joined by a Russian friend of mine, who was visiting for the week.  He had not done much hiking at all, but was an avid walker, so I want a moderate hike.  This hike seemed like a good choice to me, because of its difficulty and length, but also due to the the fact that it included both a small summit (with some excellent view and a larger waterfall.

From the Frankenstein Trestle Historical Marker (sign): "The high steel trestle above was built in 1893 to replace a wrought iron trestle of 1875, and was strengthened in 1930 and 1950. Named for American Artist Godfrey N. Frankenstein (1820-1873), the adjacent cliff and gulf were formidable barriers to completion of the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad, later the Maine Central, which connected Portland, ME and the Great Lakes. Trains used the trestle until 1983. It now carries excursion trains through Crawford Notch."

 

 

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Hiking Gear

May 30, 2012: I'll be adding more in this section in the near future, including my own list of essential gear to take when you're hiking.  This section is mostly just focused on gear in general . . . it is not meant as a gear review . . . but I will be including detailed information about my own personal hiking gear (and some gear stories, such as my quest for hiking boots).


My Own Personal Hiking Gear:

Hiking Boots: AKU Suiterra GTX Suede/Gore-Tex
: Purchased on  05/28/12, from Ragged Mountain Equipment, Intervale, NH (for 40% off).  Weight: 3 pounds. Aku Outdoor Footwear is an Italian company that has been making hiking boots for more than 30 years. Backpacker Magazine 2011's "Most Versatile Mid Duty Boots."  From the Vibram website: "AKU's Suiterra is a technical shoe perfect for trekking. Light, comfortable and versatile, Suiterra is suited to a variety of uses on longer hikes of medium-level difficulty. Suiterra is a high quality model with special stylistic elements that give it a dynamic and sporty flavor. It is equipped with a Vibram Plume Hiking trekking sole." See "My Quest for the Perfect Hiking Boots"
Day Pack (2012) Osprey Talon 33 (my new pack)
Purchased 06/19/12, from Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), North Conway, NH. From Osprey site: "The Talon 33 is the most versatile pack in its series, meeting the needs of everyone from the expert light and fast backpacker to hardcore do-it-in-a-day alpinists. Easy top loading and a floating top pocket keep you organized and on the move." Capacity and Weight: 2014 cubic inches (33 liter), 31 ounces (0.87 kg). Load Capacity: up to 30 pounds. Features: Blinker Patch, Hipbelt Pockets, Hydration Slot, Ice Ax Attachment, Rope Carry, Stretch Woven Front Pocket, Stretch Woven Side Pockets, Tow Loop, and adjustable harness (torso custom fit).

I also bought a HydraForm 2-Liter Reservoir (70 ounces): The clincher was getting 20% off both items together, so I basically ended up getting the pack and the bladder for less than the retail price of just the pack.

Osprey's All Mighty Guarantee (lifetime warranty): Free of charge, the company will repair any damage or defect in its product – whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday. If Osprey is unable to repair the item, it will happily replace it. The All Mighty Guarantee: any product, any reason, any era.

Day Pack (2003) The North Face Slingshot (my old pack)
Purchased 2003 (from The North Face Outlet, Lincoln, NH). From The North Face Site: "Amply-sized for a day hike, this versatile, 30-liter daypack features two main zip compartments, and a crisscross bungee cord system on the pack's face for added storage. Front trampoline system cord doubles as compression cinch. Extra-large, stretch-mesh front pocket expands to fit a basketball, or ski helmet. Large main compartment features a padded laptop sleeve (fits most 15" laptops), and a hydration exit port to mate with your own water system." Features: FlexVent injection-molded shoulder straps; Comfortable, stitched foam back panel; Removable hipbelt; Large main compartment with padded universal sleeve; Secondary compartment with organization, Mesh side water bottle pockets
Trekking Poles Black Diamond Contour Elliptic
Purchased 05/28/12, from Ragged Mountain Equipment in Intervale, NH (for 50% off). Telescope up to 140 cm and retract down to 76 cm, so I can easily strap them to my pack when I don't need them.  And the pair of them only weighs 1.25 pounds), plus they came with optional snow baskets, that I could switch over to when I'm hiking in the snow. They elliptic part of the name refers to the poles' oval shape, which is stronger than a round pole. And their FlickLock adjustments are much easier to release and tighten than the more common twisting adjustments (which can be impossible to release in winter conditions).
   

 

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My Quests for Hiking Gear

May 28, 2012 - My Quest for the Perfect Hiking Boots: Today I drove through the mountains to Intervale, NH . . .  to shop at Ragged Mountain Equipment (one of my favorite hiking/outfitting stores), as they were having a Memorial Day Weekend tent sale.  I have been in desperate need of some new hiking equipment for a while now (which is why I haven't been doing any hiking lately). 

My old hiking boots blew out late last Fall, during a late evening descent on a short full moon hike.  The sole of the right boot, which had recently begun to separate from the main boot, pealed back more than half way as I was working my way down a long section of a semi-steep ledge.  And it was now quite dark, as our anticipated full-moon was totally blotted out by clouds that had moved in on our accent.  I was wearing my trusty headlamp, but my batteries were old, so my light was getting dimmer and dimmer . . . and I was the current leader of our little group.  Fortunately I have great night vision, but the biggest issue when waking in semi-darkness is that you have like no depth perception, so I couldn't tell if my next step was a 1-foot drop or a 2-foot drop.  So this was not the best time for my boot to blow out on me.  It is a wonder that I didn't end up on my nose, but I somehow managed to remain upright for the remainder of our hike, stumbling my way down the trail, with the sole of my right boot flapping with every step.   My old boots had served me well for like 9 years, so they didn't really owe me anything . . . but I knew that finding a replacement would be difficult and that I would have to wait until I could afford to buy some good trekking boots (which can be rather expensive).

So my main quest today was to come home with a new pair of hiking boots.  I had seriously started my hunt for new boots a week earlier when I had to drive down to Concord, NH for a checkup with one of my doctors.  I tried two major hiking stores, and tried on like 20 different boots, but nothing fit perfectly.  I have very long, narrow feet (well, I'm long and narrow, so my feet just match the rest of me).  Everything I tried was either too short, or too wide (or both).  And if you make a long, steep descent in hiking boots that are too short, your big toes will be really, really sore in no time at all . . . and boots that are too wide are just as bad, as your foot will slide forward until you big toe stops the slide.  Toe jambing can pretty much ruin a hike, and your toes will be sore for at least a few days.  My big toe nails both turned black after one long toe jamming hike a few years ago (and one toe nail even fell off).  So I was perhaps being a bit obsessive in my search for the perfect hiking boot fit.

Today the stars must have been with me (and I had taken the time for a short prayer, before leaving my house). I walked into the store, went directly to the hiking boot section, and was greeted by a clerk who was very knowledgeable about all the hiking boots they carried.  In no time at all he found me the most excellent hiking boots, which fit me perfectly . . . and they were only the second pair of boots that I tried on!  Plus they were on sale . . . reduced 40%!  So they were well within what I had budgeted, as I had expected to pay a lot more than this for the perfect hiking boots.


My new AKU Suiterra GTX Suede/Gore-Tex Hiking Boots . . . Aren't they sexy?

I had never even heard of Aku hiking boots before, as they have only been available here for a few years. I later found out that Backpacker Magazine picked the AKU Suiterra GTX as 2011's "Most Versatile Mid Duty Boots."  Aku Outdoor Footwear is an Italian company that has been making hiking boots for more than 30 years.  Aku boots are apparently one of the most popular hiking boots in Europe.  From the Vibram website: "AKU's Suiterra is a technical shoe perfect for trekking. Light, comfortable and versatile, Suiterra is suited to a variety of uses on longer hikes of medium-level difficulty. Suiterra is a high quality model with special stylistic elements that give it a dynamic and sporty flavor. It is equipped with a Vibram Plume Hiking trekking sole."  At just 3 pounds, they weigh no more than my old light-hiking boots, but that are MUCH more supportive (are much stiffer, which I wanted for my longer hikes).  These are very well made, hand crafted boots (each pair has their own serial number tag, sewn into the tongue) . . . so they should last for several years, even if I do a bunch of hiking. See, I really did find the perfect hiking boots (at least for me).


Since nearly everything in the store was on sale, and I needed some additional gear, I ended up doing a LOT more shopping. 

The next item on my list was new hiking socks, as my current socks were getting a bit thin places. Yes, there are actually socks that are made especially for hiking. and having the right hiking socks are almost as important as having the right hiking boots. Wearing just any old sock will practically guarantee you'll get blisters on a long hike.  After a bit of digging through several large boxes of women's FoxRiver hiking socks, I finally found two pair in the correct size and thickness (one pair of CoolMax, for warm weather hikes; and one with Merino wool, for cooler weather).  I also bought 2 pairs of moisture-wicking liners . . . which are very thin, inner socks, that wick moisture away from your feet (keeping them dry) and reducing friction.  I've always worn a light-weight inner sock when I hike or ski, but they were just an old pair of regular everyday socks.  So liners were not even on my list, but they were having a special sale on them, so I bought two pair of FoxRiver liners. 

Now I just had one more item on my list . . . a pair of light weight hiking shorts.  My old shorts had not survived their last hike, but had ripped out when I had slipped on a granite ledge and slid down on my butt (I had to wear my wind pants for the rest of that hike, even though they were way too warm for the lower elevations.  Today I found a pair of grey Columbia Silver Ridge trail shorts that fit well, and a nylon strap/belt.  Grey is not my favorite color for shorts, but the only other color available was a light cream . . . which would have looked nice for like the first hour of a hike (by the end of a long hike they would have looked pretty bad, as they would have shown every spec of dirt).

My final purchase was not even on my list, but I had noticed a couple of pairs of trekking poles in the clearance tent when a was looking for my hiking socks. I've only used a old single fixed-length ski pole for non-snow hikes (and two for snowshoe/winter hikes), but rarely bother to even take one with me on most hikes, as I would have to use it constantly (even when I didn't need it), since it's length is too long to carry (strapped to my pack).  But on every long hike, there are long sections where my ski pole would have made my descent quite a bit easier . . . and there have been times when I've had to deal with ice coated rocks, which makes for some really tricky footing (and have be a bit dangerous in some sections). So I did a quick tally of my items so far, and figured that I could perhaps afford some new trekking poles . . . if they were not too expensive.  There were just three sets of poles on sale, and I immediately liked the Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Trekking Poles the best. They telescope up to 140 cm and retract down to 76 cm, so I could easily strap them to my pack when I don't need them.  And the pair of them only weighs 1.25 pounds), plus they came with optional snow baskets, that I could switch over to when I'm hiking in the snow. They elliptic part of the name refers to the poles' oval shape, which is stronger than a round pole. And their FlickLock adjustments are much easier to release and tighten than the more common twisting adjustments (which can be impossible to release in winter conditions). The clincher was that they were on sale for 50% off their retail price.  Sold!


My New Black Diamond Contour Elliptic Trekking Poles

So we had a very successful shopping trip (and the cool part was that the total for all my new gear ended up being only a bit more than what I had budgeted for just a new pair of hiking boots).  My friend was also very happy with her purchases (although she didn't find a new backpack that she liked enough to purchase).  And on the way home we stopped to watch a very entertaining young bull moose, who was happily munching leaves in Crawford Notch, along the edge of the road.  Then we went home and stacked wood in the woodshed for an hour (next winter's firewood supply).


 

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Links

Appalachian Mountain Club - NH Chapter

TopoFusion - GPS Mapping software for Windows. It downloads maps (Topo, Aerial Photo and Satellite) automatically from several public map servers (see: available imagery). The free version "is fully functional except that 1/5th of the map tiles are obscured with the word DEMO and there is a limit of three files open at a time. It is not time limited, so you are free to keep and use it as long as you like." This is what I used to plot my routes and import my route into Google Earth, which I include at the end of every new hike report (in 2012).

Trails Co-Op (formerly known as Redtrails.com) - ". . . a cooperative of trail users, mappers, and reviewers to provide everyone with the best possible trail maps and info."  You can download the GPX data for the trails in the data base.  My only complaint is that some of the files I have downloaded do not always follow the actual hiking trails all that well.

Trails NH - comprehensive hiking info, trail conditions, and trip reports (from 70+ hiking forums and blogs).  This site also has the best online trail maps (with free access).

Sierra Club - NH Chapter

Views from the Top - Northeast - Hiking

Views From The Top [VFTT] Forums - NH Trails Conditions

White Mountain National Forest - Official United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Service site.  Link to WMNF Recreation Permit (trailhead parking permit).

White Mountains Server - Hiking

Calories Burned Hiking Calculator


 

 
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